(Get Us) On the Road Again

Dear Friends,

Wow! What a week. I know some of you saw our son’s quick prayer request in our Raising Real Men Community on Facebook and have already been praying and we’re grateful. Let me tell the rest of you the ridiculous story…

Last week, we headed out late Wednesday evening on a conference speaking trip. We thought we’d be okay since we only had a little over three hours to drive that night. HOWEVER, we discovered I-95 was shut down for almost one third of our drive to clear a big accident, and no simple detour to take. We didn’t arrive at our destination until around 2am, exhausted.

At a little after 3am, we got a call from Melanie’s mom. She was sick with the stomach flu and had gotten so weak that when she fell, she couldn’t get back up. It took her two hours to reach a phone! We had to rush to wake up our adult son Caleb back home to drive over there and break in (since OF COURSE her spare keys were with us). He helped her and came back and repaired everything later. Anyway, by the time we knew she was okay, there wasn’t much time left to sleep since we had to get up and get on the road so we’d arrive in time to set up – it takes a while now that our booth is so big!

Presto, chango! (Not really, it usually takes us HOURS!)

To make a long story short, the van broke down when we were still an hour short of the conference. Our old friend Gary Bloom of the wonderful Books Bloom left his own setting up, drove an hour back, and got Melanie, the boys, and the trailer and brought them to the conference, but with only 30 minutes left to get started setting up. Our great friends Paul and Gena Suarez of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine took Melanie to the airport to rent a car for the weekend while the boys started unloading. MEANWHILE Hal sat in the sweltering heat (thankfully the girls had stayed home with family) for FIVE HOURS waiting on the tow truck. By the time Good Sam’s Club had towed Hal to the conference city and we picked him up at the mechanic, it was after 11 and close to midnight when we got back to our AirBnB, utterly exhausted.

The weekend continued in that vein, with another emergency with Melanie’s mom in the two hours we had to set up early Friday morning, followed by news that the van couldn’t possibly be fixed that weekend. Thankfully, our friends and heroes the Trautmans back home were able to loan us their van, so Caleb drove 550 miles on Saturday so we and the trailer could get home on Sunday.

Then, we got the awful news that the van needs a new engine. Second problem – rebuilt engines won’t be available for several weeks from now, and Ford Motor Company can’t even estimate a delivery date for new engines at all because they are waiting on pistons! Not to mention that the van already has 244,244 miles on it and has been driven HARD since the Lord gave it to us in 2015. If you haven’t heard that story, you ought to go listen; it was really amazing what the Lord did!

So, here we are again. We have one vehicle, an elderly Saturn SUV that won’t pull our trailer. We’ve already had to drop the idea of exhibiting at a conference in August, but we have to have something that can pull the trailer before we start traveling to speak again – and we were already hoping to replace the trailer as it’s just too small to hold all our resources anymore!

As you might expect, we weren’t planning to spend thousands of dollars this week. We were hoping for another two years of service from this van! And of course, it’s a low-sales time of year and a lot of funds are already tied up in inventory for Christmas — deliveries have been unpredictable recently. But we need a vehicle and trailer to do what we do, traveling to speak at conferences, churches, and family camps, helping people make Biblical family life practical. We still have teens at home, and we’ve always traveled together to keep our family strong while we’re talking with other folks about theirs. And we need to have resources on hand to help and encourage the people we meet, right there when we’re with them.

So here’s the bottom line: 

A new Ford engine will be $6062, plus travel costs back to Chattanooga and any storage fees. No prediction how soon that will be available.

A rebuilt engine would be $7200 plus travel and storage, available sometime around Labor Day. We didn’t have a great experience with our last rebuilt.

Someone asked why not go for a newer vehicle? After all, our van is nine years old and has nearly a quarter million miles on the transmission. We’ve looked, but the used car market is strained right now and we have to have a vehicle with a towing package and sufficient capacity. Big vans and SUVs are at a premium in the used market now, and low mileage options seem to run $35,000 and up.

While we’re dreaming, an RV, which would give us a lot more options when we travel, could be $100K or more.

An upgraded trailer (once we have some way to pull it!) would be around $5000 more.

UPDATE: Our van is ready and we’ve raised nearly enough for it! If you’d like to give to some of these further needs – like a new trailer, you can do that on Give, Send, Go! 

(Get Us) On the Road Again Sale

Sadly, you missed the sale, but we have a coupon code for you, though.

Use the coupon code MISSEDSALETEN to get 10% off your entire cart, except subscription products. 

Use the coupon code CRATETWENTY to get $20 off a three month or longer subscription to Craftsman Crate (will need to be in a separate order from the above coupon).

FREE SHIPPING on Craftsman Crate PLUS $10 Flat Rate Priority Mail Shipping on Everything Else!


Your friends,

Hal & Melanie